Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke has criticised the book’s author Stephanie Meyer for hampering her push to diversify the film’s cast, saying Meyer could not be budged on the ethnic makeup of the Cullen vampire clan.
Speaking to The Daily Beast a cool ten years after the film first burst into cinemas, Hardwicke explained that she initially wanted Alice Cullen – the adoptive sister of protagonist Edward Cullen, who was played by Ashley Greene – to be portrayed by a woman of colour.
“I wanted her to be Japanese! I had all these ideas,” Hardwicke said.
“And she just could not accept the Cullens to be more diverse, because she had really seen them in her mind, she knew who each character was representing in a way, a personal friend or a relative or something.”
Hardwicke stated she wanted the license to interpret the book’s characterisations in her own way, but that Meyer leaned on her description of the fanged antiheroes as having “pale glistening skin.”
The director was eventually able to cast non-white actors for the flick, but “wanted a lot more of the cast to be diverse.”
Claims that Twilight bears racial inferences are not new. In a 2011 article for Psychology Today, Melissa Burkley highlighted the series’ constant colour-coding, which contrasts the pale and virtuous Cullens with Native American werewolves with names like Jacob Black.
For what it’s worth, Black was portrayed in the film by Taylor Lautner – who says he has a “distant” Native American heritage through his mother.
Hardwicke’s admission comes as part of a larger discussion about inequality in the entertainment industry, and joins her continual surprise at her treatment after Twilight made her a record-holder at the box office.
Despite Twilight raking in US $192.8 million in its opening weekend, Hardwicke said she was not offered the opportunities which may have been hurled at a male director with similar box-office numbers.
“At the time I didn’t understand when people were dinging me for being whatever, emotional or difficult,” she said, “Yet they’re praising all the male directors I’ve worked for for being passionate and visionary and sticking to their guns, fighting for what they want.
“But a woman is emotional, difficult, bitchy, whatever.”
You can read the full interview HERE.